The Somali National Communications Authority (NCA) issued Hormuud Telecom with the country’s first spectrum licence closing its vetting processing which began earlier this year, a move to promote open markets, competition, and investment in the telecoms sector.
In a statement, Hormuud detailed it won the rights to use the following frequency bands: 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1.8GHz, 2.1GHz, 2.3GHz, 2.6GHz, and 3.5GHz. The operator did not state how much it paid for the rights to the airwaves.
Hormuud Telecom CEO Ahmed Mohamud Yuusuf said: “The formalisation of spectrum licences is another example of the fantastic work underway to bring stability, structure, and growth to the Somali economy.
“As Somali’s largest telecommunications provider, we’re crucially aware of the immense responsibility we play in the lives of many. We’re honoured to have been awarded this licence.”
Somalia Minister of communications and technology Jama Hassan Khalif added: “The Government of Somalia is committed to transforming the nation into one of the most digitally inclusive societies in the world. To achieve our ambition, we require strong private-public partnerships as well as a robust regulatory environment.
“We are pleased to award Hormuud Telecom with the first spectrum license. Today marks a major milestone for the industry and our country at large. We believe that together, with private organisations such as Hormuud, we can push our nation’s digitalisation agenda forward.”
The NCA opened a programme in February called the Unified Licensing Framework where it urged operators in the ICT space to apply for spectrum licences, which Hormuud applied for. The regulator noted due to various spectrum bands being already in use across Somalia it would issue upon application instead of auction, as is traditionally done globally.
Hormuud noted mobile penetration in Somalia is high with an estimated 90% of Somalians having a mobile phone, and 70% having access to 4G. Somalians are high users of mobile money with over 155 million transactions per month with a value of US$2.7 billion, with only 6% of the population using cash.
Hormuud reported a customer base of 3.6 million subscribers. The operator was set up with shareholders domestically and globally across the diaspora, with over 12,000 shareholders.
The operator became a certified mobile money provider by the GSMA in March.